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Hello All:

I apologize if this question has been asked a million times...

But here goes:
I have what I believe is the least expensive Antigua soprano sax, (serial number begins with YS) and I'm interested in obtaining a mouthpiece other than the one that came with it. I need it to be least expensive as possible, but also a step up from the mouthpiece that came with it. I have no experience in this matter, so any numbers, specifications, diameter issues, etc., would be a foreign language to me.

I hear Runyon might be good. But do you all have any ideas as to brand and specifications that might be helpful?

Thanks in Advance,
Ang
 

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Ang: Welcome to SOTW. Yes, the question has been asked MANY times, but I don't recall it being directed specifically at your model Antigua. Is the horn a 586/590 model (detachable dual neck), or is it the fixed-neck 582?

Either way, my 590 is mouthpiece friendly. I've found that all of the soprano pieces I like work just as good on my 590 as they do on any of my other sopranos (vintage to modern).

Many will probably weigh in with their favorite mouthpieces but that does you no good, really. My experience shows me that most pieces others recommend don't work AT ALL for me. My recommendation is to get yourself and your horn to a well-stocked store and try a bunch. OR, order up a few (WW&BW is a good source - their catalog will show pricing, too), work with them, then return all that don't play for you.

Finally, most of the Antiguas I've played have really thick neck-corks. Make sure you shove whatever mouthpiece you are trying far onto the cork and tune the horn before testing. A flat horn will sound bad regardless of the mouthpiece you use. DAVE
 

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I agree with Dave on some things and not all. The Antigua sops do seem to work well with most mouthpieces. The only way you can go wrong is by getting one that won't fit the cork or has too large a tip opening for your stage of development. Incidentally, it does not matter how many years of experience you may have on other saxes, only your experience with a soprano counts. At first you should start with a closed piece such as the one that came with your sop. That should be good for about 30 hours of good, full blowing throughout the range high and low. Dave usually tells everyone to try the Super Session J ( 0.069 tip, not a cheap piece) and I tried an "I" (.065 tip) which was as close as I could get and decided I prefer an F (.057 tip). So we disagree on that. I also do not think a well-stocked music store is any help. The reason I say that is because I have found that you need to put in a bunch of hours on any piece before deciding whether it is good for you or not - assuming you can make a fair sound with it to begin with. Many Internet stores allow you to try 2 or 3 mouthpieces for at least 3 weeks before making up your mind and returning the ones you don't want for a small cleaning fee. I tried that for three Supersessions and ended up making the wrong choice! I chose an "I" first and later swapped it for an "F". Any trial in a store is meaningless to me.

To be safe, go by the tip opening. The standard "#4" piece that comes with the Antigua is .047 inches wide. In the Selmer mouthpiece series, S-80 or Super Session, that corresponds to a C* which what many consider the best size for classical work in which intonation is more important than jazz effects.

If you want to play jazz you will want to work toward a wider tip.

The Runyon Custom with Spoiler in size 6 is recomended as a very good low-priced piece. You can get it for about $64 on-line. I like that a lot. To start with you might want to take out the spoiler. The spoiler simply adds a little kick to the attack as it acts like a high baffle. It is easily removed before installing the reed. Without the spoiler you might find it easier to get a clean start on the notes. The #6 has a tip opening of .055 inches which is wide enough to let you do some note-bending without going crazy. I find it plays in tune very well on the Antugua but that is a personal thing that takes practice with any system.

The best mouthpiece I have found is the Selmer S-80 in size E (.053 inch tip). It costs about $70 on-line. But each of us is a product of our practice and development experience. More than any other instrument, the sop is what you make it. I started about18 months ago on sop after playing tenor and other brass horns for many decades. When I bought my Antigua 590, I bought a Morgan Protone and a Bari 66 in addition to the standard "#4" piece that comes with the horn. I had been playing a #7 on tenor for a while and someone said the 66 should be equivalent to that. It was not equivalent to the #7 tenor. Don't believe any of that stuff. The sop is unlike any other horn. I could barely blow a note with the 66. The Protone was fair and I played it a bit but it did not fit the cork well on the Antigua. The Selmers and Runyons fit the cork fine. Good cork grease helps.

Reeds are important too. Many people recommend hard reeds such as #3 or harder. I started with 2.5 and went to 2.0 which I enjoy more and can get a better sound on.

Ligatures are also important. I prefer the Rovner fabric ligs, either the "Dark" or the "EVO-5" style. Go to the www.rovner.com site to pick a lig for any mouthpiece you get. They have a variety of sizes.

For the past year, I have been moving between the Runyon 6, the S-80 E and a Selmer Supersession F. At times each has been my favorite. At first I thought they gave very different sounds. But today, after playing the Runyon exclusively for a couple of weeks, I switched to the S-80 with a Rovner Dark lig and found the sound just as loud, almost as expressive but more of a full and mellow soprano sound. Sometimes the Runyon sounds a lot like a trumpet especially on the high notes which get rather "piercing." The S-80 plays all the notes on the horn with a full and firm sound.

Grover Washington, Jr used a Runyon Custom with a Rovner Dark lig on his sop. It can't be too bad. It gives a very cool sound if you play it that way. But it can also slice through the din and wake people up in the back row if you want it to.
 

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While I may have made mouthpiece recommendations in years past, I no longer do that. On occasion, I will tell what I use, mainly if that is the question. But making mouthpiece recommendations in my view is more useless than going to a store and testing pieces.

I disagree that testing mouthpieces at a store is a useless practice. True, maybe some new players won't know what works for them and what doesn't, but it won't take even a newbie too long to "feel" a new piece and decide whether or not it is better than the one he now plays. Will it be worth the $100+/- to find out? I say yes.

I realize there is disagreement about all of this, but I'm wondering how long a player has to wait until he can make a decision about a mouthpiece. If every dollar/pound one comes by is precious, then maybe the new player shouldn't try anything for years until his soprano chops develop. On the other hand, buying mouthpieces that turn out to be non-favorites may be okay for some players - chalk it up to the learning process.

Examples . . . a while back, I met up with a new member of SOTW and he came to my house. He had just purchased an Antigua soprano from Dave Kessler and on Dave's advice, added a Morgan ProTone mouthpiece, recommended by Dave. All well and good. The fellow was a new soprano player, too.

However, as the afternoon went on and we tried various mouthpieces, I sure didn't care for the ProTone - and neither did my friend. He tried my Selmer S-80 F and a Link STM 6* and liked both of them. We traded some equipment and he ended up with both of my pieces. He later upgraded again to a Selmer Super Session J and I don't what he is using now.

BUT, he didn't have much experience on sop yet he knew enough to pick better mouthpieces than what came with his Antigua. That is, "better" for him, not better for everyone.

I contend it doesn't take days of testing to decide a mouthpiece will play for the tester. Whether or not that mouthpiece will end up being the favorite piece is another issue.

I can sit down in a store and go through a bunch of pieces and pretty quickly decide which ones are NOT good for me. So, I buy the one(s) I like and maybe later they aren't as good as I thought they'd be, but so what? I could sell them or put them in my mouthpiece boxes for later trials. After all, we are not talking about new cars or new houses here - merely mouthpieces that for the most part may cost up to $125.00 or so.

As far as Tom and I disagreeing about whether a .055" or .069" tip opening is better, there is no disagreement. He likes closer tips and I like the more open ones. There is no right or wrong - how can one disagree about something as personal as a mouthpiece? It is a non-issue. Just because I don't care for the Runyon (I have one, by the way) or the Morgan ProTone or the S-80 E (I have several S-80's) doesn't mean they are bad pieces. It just means that they don't work for me - that's all.

And that's why I didn't make a recommendation in this thread about what piece to use with an Antigua soprano. No one knows but Ang. Ang is the guy who has to find the piece(s) that works for him. Can a recommendation help him make a selection? I don't think so. DAVE
 

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I'm kind of in the same boat as you. I recently purchased an antigua soprano and I'm still playing with the stock 4C that came with the horn. FWIW, I've spoken with both Kessler and Dave at Junkdude and they both recommend the Morgan ProTone as an upgrade. Having read many posts on this subject, I'm not exactly sure that it's an upgrade, just an alternative to the stock mcp.

Obviously, I'm not in the possition to make any recommendations as to which mpc you should choose. But what I'm going to do is order several mpc from musician's friend and then return the one's that I don't like. Musician's friend has a mpc tryout progam and they let you do just that, I think WWBW and Music 123 also have similar programs. You have to pay shipping on the mpc, both ways, and you have to pay a cleaning charge of about $4 per piece on return. But I think it is a good way to try out a bunch of different mpc's.
 

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Clearly there are so many things involved here that none of us is likely to develop the same way or come to the same conclusion. The mouthpiece is only one of so many things involved here as I mentioned above. But what I didn't mention above is the biggest element there is - the player's brain. We have an idea about what we want to sound like. At first it is unlikely we will get close to that because it takes a lot of lip muscle and the coordination of other body muscles that all have to be taught to work together. The brain helps this coordination process but it takes time. Starting with a good-quality mouthpiece helps. But you can compensate with reeds, ligs and with playing techniques. Some of this amounts to learning bad habits that work for you.

My statement that it takes time to learn which mouthpiece works best for a particular player is proven by the history stated on this Forum by a great number of players. They have one favorite for a while and then later have another favorite. We are all trying different things to see if they help us. The trick is not to make a snap decision and eliminate something that could work for you given more time.
 

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Tom: I totally agree that it takes time to move a mouthpiece from "playable" to "first-choice". What I'm saying is that it shouldn't take anyone but a few minutes to decide "no-go" vs. "possible." And "possible" is the decision that has to be made if one even wants to come close to the "playable" vs. ""first-choice" level.

Example . . . I go to a store, select several pieces, go to the room, and start playing them. Some of them won't even speak for me, or if they do make a sound, it is muffled, strained, etc., etc. Certainly I am not going to give it any further consideration. That may be a snap decision, but also a valid decision. I'm not going to miss anything by failing to pursue a piece that doesn't play good from the start. Even newbies can come to that decision.

But maybe one or two of the pieces play well from the git-go. THOSE are the ones I'll play for a few more minutes before making a "buy" decisison.

When I get home, I play the thing a lot and finally, I play it on a gig. NOTHING tests equipment like performing with it.

After the gig, I'll either play it some more at home or put it away. Selecting mouthpieces is not rocket science and many of us have boxes of pieces we've acquired, tested, and boxed in favor of something we liked better.

And yes, many of us have evolved (even at this late date in my life). I used to love my S-80 J and S-80 G pieces . . . until the Super Session J hit the market. Lately, I'm enjoying a Morgan Vintage 7 on my S992 and the Morgan Vintage 6 on my SC902. The SS-J remains my piece-of-choice on my '28 TT.

For a while, I used Link STM's, too, but they now are in my soprano mouthpiece box along with countless others I've acquired over the years. It is not the end of the world if a newbie buys a piece and later decides he doesn't like it. DAVE
 

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angelojf said:
Hello All:

I apologize if this question has been asked a million times...

But here goes:
I have what I believe is the least expensive Antigua soprano sax, (serial number begins with YS) and I'm interested in obtaining a mouthpiece other than the one that came with it. I need it to be least expensive as possible, but also a step up from the mouthpiece that came with it. I have no experience in this matter, so any numbers, specifications, diameter issues, etc., would be a foreign language to me.

I hear Runyon might be good. But do you all have any ideas as to brand and specifications that might be helpful?

Thanks in Advance,
Ang
Sigh. What type of music are you playing, and how long have you been playing? All of this talk about "the right piece" is well and good, but it makes a big difference if he's playing in a chamber group vs. a big band....
 
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